India remained perfect through the round robin stage and are now well placed for the knockout phase of their World Cup defence.
The final game against Zimbabwe was the ideal combination of a tough chase against moderate opposition, which afforded both Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni the opportunity to spend a long and fruitful time in the middle.
Dhoni did little more than enhance his already shiny reputation as a finisher of matches with a hit for six but the time in the middle won’t have done him any harm. Raina on the other hand needed a confidence boost and playing a long innings in a critical situation should’ve achieved that aim.
However, there is still the lingering thought with Raina that he’s a very confident player against moderate bowling but still harbours doubts about his ability against the top class quicks. The one thing that innings didn’t do was allay his concerns against the faster bowlers peppering him with short-pitched deliveries.
Still, a century does wonders for a batsman’s confidence no matter who it’s against and at least Raina will face the better attacks now with runs under his belt. He has no excuses.
The bowlers, especially the faster men, had the ideal tune-up for the finals and their turnaround from early in the summer has been instrumental in India’s vast improvement. The appearance of Mohit Sharma was both fortuitous and fruitful, and it’s no coincidence that the revival commenced with his arrival.
India now has great confidence and belief, twin attributes that can go a long way to providing success in the knockout phase of a tournament.
It could be looked upon as a bit of a downer that Zimbabwe scored so many against a World Cup contender. The other way to appraise this contest is to say it was ideal preparation for the Indian batsmen to have to chase a demanding target.
There’s no doubt India is better prepared because of that successful chase.
Things have gone smoothly for India in the first phase of the tournament; there have been few injury concerns, the stalwarts have all found some form and importantly the confidence is high. The other thing that India’s perfect six wins from six matches has done, is send a strong message to the opposition: “We’re ready and we’re peaking at the right time.”
All India need to do now is continue playing good cricket and hold their nerve. With “Captain Cool” in charge they have the ideal leader to keep the team calm and concentrated.